I just noticed that there is a “fan”-feature on Technorati. It may be on for years but it never really drew my attention. I have four fans!
Beside of Marian Steinbach (whom I know, “Hello!”) I see three other people that I do not know:
Tom Roper who is a Information Resources Development Coordinator for the Brighton & Sussex Medical School in England.
Alwin Hawkins who seems to have added me years ago and seems to have kept me for my interest in Tinderbox (don’t know…).
Mark Blair who is a Website architect, Internet strategist and techno-sociologist.
It’s odd how people get to appreciate things from authors that don’t know about it. I think this is fundamental that the Internet changes the relationship between authors and readers – more than it has already.
I’d love to see who are those 500+ people that have subscribed to this blog, but I fear I will never really know….
Kinja is a weblog guide, collecting news and commentary from some of the best sites on the web. Visitors can browse items on topics, everything from food to sex. Or they can create a convenient personal digest, to track their favorite writers. Weblogs are much talked about, but still challenging to navigate for the average web user. Kinja is designed to bring weblog writers to a broader audience, by making it easier to explore topics, posts and writers.
It seems to be some kind of community site for all kinds of meta-data about weblogs.
I am in Hamburg at the Campus Innovation conference to offer a small 90-minute workshop on blogging together with Nico Lumma. There are many attendees from the E-Learning community and universities here. I hope I can spur some ideas…
Notiz an die Teilnehmer: Die Folien des Vortrags finden Sie hier [PDF; 3,6 MB]
Here is a short review about some weblogs politicians from Germany are writing. Obviously many have ghost writers and don’t write themselves. They don’t get it. A weblog is not about updated news in a different way – it is an effective way to personally reach thousands of people. If readers feel the blog is written by hired ghostwriters, they probably turn away (because it is not the ghostwriters they want to elect). So essentially if they have ghostwriters (and I can’t see how they could do without), these must be VERY close to the candidate’s way of writing/thinking or they should appear as assistant bloggers. People are so fed up with mimicry, that they expect real voices now.
But the main story of the review is about content: What topics are these blogs touching? I am not quite sure, if that is really an important question. Politicians could put an list of press releases online if they want to state their views. Blogs are about authenticity and personality. People want to know what candidates have in mind – not how well they care about their impression.
An interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about webloggers that apply for academic positions claiming that most blogs are not benefitial:
Our blogger applicants came off reasonably well at the initial interview, but once we hung up the phone and called up their blogs, we got to know “the real them” — better than we wanted, enough to conclude we didn’t want to know more.
In several occasions we had no convincing argument why discussion via weblogs are different from news groups. The productive atmosphere today (oops: yesterday) generated a new argument:
News Groups are topics oriented where as weblogs are learner centered
I sense there is even a more important aspect that specifically needs to be reviewed when talking about personal weblogs (in contrast to group weblogs): the creation of identity. A weblog (to some degree also a group weblog for small groups) is “owned” by the author(s) and therefore create a completely different motivation for expression.
Weblogs are not special because of their technology but because of the practice and authorship they shape. And it is a practice that will require a weblog author to be »connected« to processes, discourses and communities.
This seems to me is a fundamental difference to classical forums and discussion groups where individuals are only represented as part of the system – and not the system as part of the identity of the individual (in this sense Peter and Leiff are – I think – correct by asserting the difference is related to what is in the center).
It is also this “turning around” the role of the technology/medium which makes – in my opinion – weblogs a completely different approach in regard to didactical and educational scenarios.
As stated in the paper, this puts also a social pressure on the learner: the creation of individual identity is created by the nature and quality of interaction with the discourse – not by judgments of a single other individual (the teacher/coach).
I think there is much more to say about this, but I think weblogs remain a trend because they give individuals a feeling of identity, responsibility and relevance (that would otherwise need to be established by alternative means).
I’d like to point some examples of students in our department, that have started personal weblogs: e.g. Tim Bruysten and Tobias Jordans. There are also other examples of former students remaining active webloggers: Fabian Bolte, Katharina Birkenbach and Ingo Hinterding (both mentioned in the paper with other work BTW). I’d say their weblogs have become “individual” in the sense, that they all have their style, writing, topical focus, a.s.o. – In regard to the former students: they remain existent on my radar. And their professional future is to some small part a part of my identity as coach – so that’s why I like to put them in my blogroll.
Mark Bernstein writes that Tinderbox is perfectly well suited for structured blogging. It’s basically a concept to add metadata to blog posts. Tinderbox originally was designed with personal content management and hypertext authoring in mind – not blogging. It could be a push for Eastgate if structured blogging is recieving wider attention. Dave Winer also points to data blogging which he says takes the idea further.
I am somewhat sceptical about data blogging. There are too many implementation details involved: weblog software developers would have a hard time to come up with simple solutions that users will like. Some power bloggers may anhance their HTML pages with this, but the real secret to success is syndication. I can’t imagine a simple way of how such meta data enriched blog posts will be aggregated and presented to users in a consistent way.
My prediction for podcasting & weblogging: It will remain as a method for distributing files via RSS-style subscription. But I don’t think it will have much impact in the blogging area. Most podcasts created by bloggers are simply too boring. They can’t be indexed. Passages can’t be quoted. Most of all: you have to invest a lot more time to get the messages – there are no headlines you could scan.
I am going to present about weblogs in higher education at an event at the Univeristy of Hagen next week. I am not quite sure what the audience is expecting and what how this topic is going to fit into the day. I think the (german) presentations will be video taped and published online. In the afternoon there will be a roundtable about the assessment of curricular structures and the role e-learning activities could play.
I was thinking yesterday about playing some radical mindgames and sketch some speculative scenarios. But I reverted these thoughts, because they do not help the main topic of my presentation too much. It is more important to really get the idea across what kind of new quality weblogs are and to offer a good framing of the corresponding questions.
My intention is to approach the topic of “learning through authorship” from a different angle. The usual approaches have been to ask what changes might occur to the current situation. So if it would be possible to sketch out a completely arbitrary and utopic scenario then I hope it could help to come to research questions, that target some concepts ebout higher education that many of use take for granted. The weblog topic is an interesting jump start for this because in turns the role of learners from receiving ends into potential network nodes. My understanding is that this changes the rules of the game and we need to ask in which way it canges and if we could design and implement certain outcome.